a letter to my son (18 months!)


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Braxton Boy,

Yesterday you turned eighteen months old. Sheesh. I feel in some ways like I was just pregnant with you a few months ago and just a few weeks ago I held you in my arms for the first time and kissed your sweet smelling head and soft, puffy cheeks. In lots of other ways though I feel as though you have always been here. Honestly, it is kind of hard to remember life without you in it. You have changed our lives and our home in so many ways, that I strain to remember who we were and what we did before you were here. What would our family be without your sweet, silly, sideways smile? Or your breathy, motor-like chant as your run crazily from room to room barely missing walls (and sometimes not…). Where would we be without your strong willed, sometimes finicky personality? Where would Hayleigh be without her favorite playmate and protégé? My lips, but more my heart, would miss your generous outpouring of kisses. A family walk would never be the same without you pointing out each house that owns a dog. I am pretty sure that Daddy would never feel quite as good about coming home from work without your exuberant “DAAAAADDDDYYY!! MWAAA!!! UP! UP!” Yes, my sweet boy, you have certainly given our family, and me personally, things I never knew were missing. But now that I have them, and you, I can’t imagine my life without.

I have said it before, and I will say it until I die, you have taught me so much. When you were born I thought I had an idea of how to be a Mommy. I had an idea how to be Hayleigh’s Mommy, but you taught me how to be your Mommy. This is a challenge and a privilege that I thank God for often and strive to learn more of how to master every day. There have certainly been times in the last eighteen months that have been less than pretty, and a far cry from easy. But I am so thankful that even when I could not see exactly what God was trying to accomplish in my life, He could see. He knew that you were just what I needed. Even when I never would have known it before getting to know you, God knew. And I am so glad He did. I will always credit God with using you to deepen my understanding of unconditional love. He has used you, and the love I have grown in, the relationship I chose to fight for, to give me a whole new perspective on God’s love for me. What an incredible journey! What a beautiful blessing!

Even before you have been able to understand God has used you. He has had a purpose for you from the beginning. I am sure that He has so many more plans for your amazing life, my sweet boy. I am so honored to be your Mommy and just to be able to be used by God to mold you into the person He wants you to become. I am so blown away by the fact that by being your Mommy, I get to be privy to how God is going to use you for amazing things-big and small.

It is my prayer that the personality that we see emerging in you now will be put to a powerful use for God’s Kingdom. You are so perceptive. You often notice things that everyone else overlooks, or a least expects a toddler to overlook. I am often amazed by your perception and awareness of the world around you. You really don’t miss a thing. I pray that someday God cultivates that in you so that you are aware of the needs of others. Maybe you have been given this gift so you can make a difference in your community, in the world. Maybe you have been given this gift so you can be sympathetic to what is going on in the hearts and minds of other people. I think this is a beautiful thing. I hope that as you grow older you will continue to see the beauty and intricacies in the world. I pray that you will be compassionate and loving as you are in tune with people around you.

You are also very strong willed and sometimes temperamental. This is often seen as a negative trait. And I agree that sometimes this can manifest as sinful stubbornness and anger. Beware against that in yourself. God gave you a very passionate, deliberate, particular personality. He wants to use it for His glory. Don’t stifle that in yourself, but rather instead of falling into the ways that it is easy for you to sin, chose to use this part of you for good. I firmly believe that once you figure out how to channel this part of your personality, and once you align your will with God’s will, you will be able to do amazing things. I can only imagine the things that your passion and vigor will enable God to do through you- whether it is something “big” like leading a ministry, or being a missionary or maybe a social worker or something as “simple” as being a strong husband and father. (By the way, I hope you know that neither God nor I think that being a Godly, passionate, loving husband and father is any less of a high calling that being Billy Graham, or any other great evangelist.) Whatever God calls you to do run toward it with all the passion He has given you. As it says in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.

I have seen many people who are told they can do “anything” be paralyzed, lacking direction and thus they do nothing of any real consequence. They are afraid to fail. They are afraid to succeed. They are lost because apparently they can do anything, but that doesn’t give them any real answers as to what they are meant to do. I can already see that you and your sister are smart enough, and people centered enough to do whatever you would want to do. I don’t want this to be a stumbling block for you though. I hope that Daddy and I can encourage you in what you love and are talented at. But more than that, I pray that you find your sense of identity in God alone. I so long for you to find your security and significance in who God is and who He made you to be. You are “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Ephesians 2:10). Since God is the one who made you, it makes the most sense for you to seek Him when deciding who you are and what you should do with your life. I pray that as a boy and as a man your identity would not be in what you have accomplished, who you know, what you do for a living-but rather that your identity would be in Christ. I pray for you and your sister often that “out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:16-18). May this love, may His grace and Truth, be where you find your identity, your strength and your direction in life.

First and foremost God created you to love Him, honor Him and reflect Him to the world. He created you because He loves you dearly-even more than I do, which is sometimes hard for me to comprehend. He gives you the freedom to chose what it is you will do in this life. As long as you are honoring God and using the talents and passions He has given you, you cannot go wrong. John MacArthur says it well in his book “Found: God’s Will”. He says, “God’s will is that you be saved, Spirit- filled, sanctified, submissive and suffering. God’s word makes that all clear…If you are doing all five of these basic things, do you know what the next principle of God’s will is? Do whatever you want!” (p. 54).  As one of my favorite verses Psalm 37:4 says “Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” The bible also says that “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). This refers to returning to our sinful habits. I also think it can be applied to living a life of freedom when it comes to God’s will for our lives,. Since God set us free to be free-, I pray you will live free, and with courage, because God also says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). I often pray that you will be a man of courage. This courage can only come from a relationship with God that defines who you are, otherwise it is foolishness. May you have confidence in who God has created you to be and may you go through life with courage.

I love you so much my sweet B. I don’t know when you will read this letter. Right now you are upstairs taking a nap. When you wake up I will open your bedroom door and say “Is there a B in here!?” You will jump up and down and say “yeah!” as you lunge for me and wrap your arms around my neck. I will pick you up, swing you around in a hug. Then I will kiss your irresistable cheeks and bring you downstairs to play. Someday I will not be here to kiss your cheeks, answer your questions, and give you a secure love that directs you in life. Only God can do that. I pray with all my heart that you will know God personally and find security and direction in His love. Just as you run to my arms now, and rest in my embrace, I pray that someday you will do the same with your Heavenly Father. Right now you are only eighteen months old. Sometimes I selfishly wish I could keep you young forever, but in reality I am raising you to release you. The only comfort I find in this is that as I release you into the world you will be held by arms stronger than my own- the arms of God.

I adore you my sweet boy. However old you get, you will always be my precious, baby boy.

Love always,

Mommy


I have learned that you do not smile (or do much of anything else) on demand. I have so few pictures of you smiling at the camera. No matter what absurdities I am saying behind the camera, you refuse to look at me and if you do look it is usually with a unimpressed look. When I catch you smiling candidly it is often when you are running or playing and sometimes the shot is out of focus. Anyway, you really are a happier, more expressive kid than my pictures suggest. You currently have two incisor teeth poking their way through, so yesterday was not your best day. In order to cheer you up we spent a lot of time reading “Curious George”, “The day the Goose got Loose”, Elmo books (against my wishes), dancing to “Go Fish” and watching out the window for cars and dogs. In order to cheer me up I asked you lots of questions because I love to hear your sweet voice answer “nooo”, yeah!”, “uh huh.” or “ummmmm….”.

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